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Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Baronet is Born

Today in Masonic History Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Baronet in born in 1848.

Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Baronet was a Scottish entrepreneur.

Lipton was born on May 10th, 1848 in Glasgow, Scotland in the Gorbals area. Lipton himself has disputed the year he was born claiming he was born in 1850, parish records of the time do not indicate the year he claims and census records from 1851 show him as being three years old. Lipton's parents had moved from Ireland in 1845 due to the potato famine, settling in Glasgow a year before Lipton was born. Lipton attended the St. Andrew's Parish School from 1853 to 1863.

By 1863, Lipton's parents had opened a shop in the Gorbals where they sold eggs, butter and ham. Lipton wanting to help his parents with their financial problems left school and found employment as an errand boy for a printer. He also worked as a shirtcutter. During this same time he attended the Gorbal's Youth School at night.

In 1864, Lipton signed on as a cabin boy on steamer going from Glasgow to Belfast. He was captivated by the sea and the stories of the sailors who worked on the steamer. Especially the stories of those who had traveled to the United States. When Lipton was let go from the steamer, he immediately used his money to travel to the United States where he lived and worked for the next five years. He traveled from state to state and had an average of one job per year in Virginia, South Carolina, New Orleans, New Jersey and finally a grocery assistant in New York .

In 1870, Lipton returned to Glasgow he initially helped his parents in their shop and then opened his own provision shop called Lipton's Market. He grew his empire of stores first across Glasgow and then across Britain.

In 1880, Lipton invested in stockyards in Omaha, Nebraska. He sold his interest in the stockyards in 1887.

By 1888, Lipton had more than 300 stores and was ready to branch out into a new area. At the time the price of tea had fallen and was now more available for, and desired by, the middle class. Lipton wanted to take it one step further and make the tea available for all the poor working class as well, an untapped market so far. He went around the normal channels and was able to start purchasing tea for much less than other providers. He worked with James Taylor who established tea gardens in Sri Lanka. Lipton established his Lipton tea brand and began selling it across Europe and the United States.

Lipton never lost his love of the sea and had several yachts which he donated for use during World War I for the transportation of medical personnel and medical supplies. He also visited Serbia during World War I where he was well received. Lipton never forgot the place he came from. When he visited Serbia he stayed in modest lodgings and insisted on eating whatever the locals were eating under war conditions. On his visit he was made an honorary citizen of Niš, the wartime capital of Serbia.

Between 1899 and 1930, Lipton challenged the American Holders of the America's Cup five times with five boats called Shamrock (I-V). He was unsuccessful and earned him a specially designed cup "best of all losers". The challenges helped to popularize his tea in the United States.

Lipton passed away on October 2nd, 1931.

Lipton was a member of Lodge Scotia, No. 178 in Glasgow, Scotland. At the time of his passing, Lipton was the oldest member of the lodge.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.